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Posted by Admin on Jun 12th, 2010 and filed under Featured, Mondial 2010, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

By Mick Dennis|12 June 2010|Express.co.uk|

Cameroon's striker Samuel Eto'o (L, centre) and defender Rigobert Song (R, centre) jog with teammates during the first training session of the national football team at Northlands School in Durban, on June 10, 2010 on the eve of the South Africa 2010 World Cup kick off. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

CAMEROON suddenly changed their mind about allowing media access today – because they claimed Japanese TV crews had climbed on cars to film a “closed” training session yesterday

I am not sure what the fuss was about, because I saw enough at a public session to have a good clue about how the Africans will approach the Group E match between the nations tomorrow in Bloemfontein.

But there were certainly comical scenes at the Durban school today which the Cameroon squad have selected for a training base.

To understand, you need to know the three types of training sessions.

Public sessions can be watched by anyone who shows up, and when it is an African team involved, lots of folk do turn up.

There is usually a minimum of two thousand noisy spectators, plus several hundred assorted police and two dozen or so nosy journalists.

We all – public, cops and hacks – are kept in the stand, if there is one, or behind tapes if there is not.

“No World Cup tournament is complete without allegations of spying at a closed training session” Mick Dennis.

The public are not allowed at the misleadingly titled Open training sessions.

But the accredited media can get in, although they are seldom allowed near the pitches. Instead they might  be shepherded into a room and hope to  glimpse bits and pieces from a distance.

The key element of an open session is that the media are promised regulated access to at least some squad members before or after training.

There might be a “mixed zone”, which is when the players have to go through a throng of journos and we grab them for a chat.

Or there might be a formal press conference with a couple of players sitting on a platform with all the requisite branding and advertising carefully placed in camera shot.
Closed sessions are completely private. Don’t even think about trying to blag your way in. Fabio Capello and most managers favour the latter but are obliged to have a few of types one and two.

No major tournament is complete without allegations of spying at a closed session, so you could say that Paul Le Guen, Cameroon’s French coach, declared this World Cup officially open several hours before the official ceremony.

A motley mob of media folk pitched up at the school and when they found all the entrances barred by police (most of whom have guns, by the way) they complained – all right, we complained – loudly and persistently.

“Linus said it would be Open”, we kept telling the cop with the most stars on his epaulettes.

Eventually, a FIFA official went and fetched Cameroon press officer Linus Pascal Fouda who said, “Yesterday at a closed session you climbed on vehicles and filmed. That is completely bad. So the coach said today is closed and not open and the police will not let you climb on your cars.”

It became clear that by “you” he meant the Japanese, who live up to the stereotype by using cameras all the time.
They filmed Linus, then they filmed each other filming Linus and finally they filmed police telling them to stop filming.

I think I got myself in the background several times and so am probably very big in Japan now.

* AT an open session yesterday evening, it was fairly obvious that Arsenal’s Alexandre Song will be a key man for Cameroon.

He took part in a frequently repeated drill in which Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto’o dropped deep to drag his marker out of the back four so that a wide player could make a run into the space.

* THE school picked by Cameroon as a base is Northlands Primary. It is on Gleneagles Drive and all the surrounding roads are also named after British golf course.

You approach it via Hoylake Avenue and Sunningdale Road, for instance. And those roads feel like a very well-heeled English suburb, with substantial houses with prim lawns.

But then you notice that the birds grubbing about on those lawns are Mynahs and you remember it is Africa.

The school definitely doesn’t look English. It is far too well-equipped, with several first rate football pitches and a stand that would not look out of place at a decent non-league ground in the UK.

There is one remarkable aspect of Cameroon’s choice of the school and a nearby swanky hotel as their base: all their qualifying games are hundreds of miles away.

They won’t play in Durban unless they win their group, in which case their second round fixture is here.

Either they are very confident or they like flying.

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